|Holding the "March
4 Peace" banner, Ashley Casale '10 and Michael Israel reached Washington DC
Sept. 10 after walking 3,000 miles across the country supporting nonviolent
resistance to war efforts.
Student Marches Across Country to Support Peace
After wearing through four pairs of shoes and
speaking to hundreds of people in 12 states about war solutions, Wesleyan
student Ashley Casale ’10 returned briefly to campus after a 3,000-mile
cross-country trek to promote world peace.
Casale ’10 walked from San Francisco, Calif. to Washington D.C. this summer
to raise peace awareness and discuss ways to take actions nonviolently. Her
“March for Peace” concluded Sept. 10 in front of the White House.
“Overall, this was a great, eye-opening experience,” Casale said to peers,
deans and President Michael Roth during campus visit Sept. 21. “This walk
was about peace, and (we learned that) peace isn’t political.”
Casale crossed the country with her walking partner Michael Israel, a recent
high school graduate from California. Together, they trekked 25 miles a day,
carrying a wide “March 4 Peace SF to DC” banner or donning pro-peace attire.
They made several stops along the route to chat with area residents about
Their messages included supporting nonviolent resistance to war efforts,
ceasing crimes against humanity, ending nuclear weapon holding and
proliferation, and promoting sustainability and global citizenship. They
particularly marched for peace in Iraq, and to raise awareness of the
genocide, rape and torture in the Darfur region of Sudan, Africa.
Casale and Israel began the walk on May 21, carrying only three outfits, two
journals, a first aid kit, water bottle, sunscreen, sleeping bag and a small
tent a piece. They relied on acquaintances they met along the way to donate
food, additional clothing, shelter and shoes. They also asked for monetary
donations via their Web site,
Casale said hundreds of peace-supporters joined their march, some for hours,
others for days.
Together, they crossed America’s deserts, prairies and mountainous regions,
in the sun, rain storms and whipping winds, all in attempt to make a visible
impact. Casale and Israel made several media appearances, from radio and
television interviews, to being featured on the front page of the Chicago
“We never wanted to draw attention to ourselves, just our cause,” Casale
who was living in California during the time of their departure, says he
remembered seeing Casale on the 10 p.m. news.
“When I saw that there was a student from Wesleyan walking across the
country for peace, I thought that was a very admirable thing,” Roth said
during a recent meeting with Casale and Israel. “It’s wonderful you were
able to bring attention to peace activism, and that you were so determined
to get your message out there.”
The walkers recorded their experiences along the way in a journal, but the
memories are still very fresh in their minds. They recall meeting a woman in
Griswold, Iowa who lost her fiancé at the time to the Vietnam War, and a
military mom in Peoria, Ill. whose son joined the Army and was deported to
“It was always emotional for us to talk to military moms, because most of
them have sons in Iraq who are our same age,” Casale said. “She said she
told her son in Iraq about us, and he was awed that we had walked so far to
end this war.”
Casale and Israel plan to write a book together this year based on their
March for Peace. Class deans Marina Melendez and Michael Whaley invited them
to speak at a dean’s colloquium, and Roth said he will encourage other
students to express their views and be proactive.
Casale and Israel made dozens of stops in each state they passed through.
Their route included California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa,
Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia and finally
Washington D.C. Their journey is documented in an online photo gallery at
Casale, an undeclared environmental studies and music major, will resume her
studies at Wesleyan in Spring 2008.
By Olivia Bartlett, Wesleyan Connection editor